Ian Whittlesea: The Demonstration of Gentleness


In Ian Whittlesea’s short film The Demonstration of Gentleness, identical twins Helen and Kathryn Cartwright are seen demonstrating the Ju-no-Kata, a choreographed pattern of judo movement. Commissioned by Stanley Picker Gallery for No Competition! in 2012, the film references artist and judo devotee Yves Klein’s Les Fondements du Judo (The Foundations of Judo), published in 1954 and translated into English by Whittlesea himself in 2009.

Ian Whittlesea’s work is often concerned with words, and with the lives and work of other artists and writers. It assumes many forms: from painstaking text paintings that take years to make, to ephemeral posters and transient projections. In 2003 he began to learn judo and translated Yves Klein’s 1954 book Les Fondements du Judo into English. This generated a series of related events and ephemera, including recreations of Klein’s Judo Académie de Paris at Tate Modern (2009) and Cokkie Snoei Gallery, Rotterdam (2009). He has exhibited throughout the UK and internationally, including at Payne Shurvell Gallery, London (2011), The Narrows, Melbourne (2010) and The Chelsea Space, London (2009), and is represented by Marlborough Contemporary, London.

The Demonstration of Gentleness was filmed at Croydon Dojo with the support of the British Judo Association, and with a crew including Kingston University film-making students Yoyo Zhao Siyu, Henry Gray and Ella Marshall Dutt. The film was premiered at the Studio Cinema BFI Southbank in collaboration with Marlborough Contemporary. Please note: It is intended by the artist that the piece be viewed online, as it appears, in standard Vimeo format and not enlarged to full-screen.

A further Stanley Picker Gallery commission, Mazdaznan Health & Breath Culture by Ian Whittlesea consists of a publication produced with Open Editions, London and associated online gallery.